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Salt Lake City, UT
A 34-year-old female asked:

how do you know difference between bacterial or viral bronchitis?

2 doctor answers2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Donald Colantino
Internal Medicine 61 years experience
Bronchitis: Viral upper respiratory tract infections usually run their course in 7to10 days. If symptoms of bronchitis (coughing up discolored sputum with or without wheezing), persist longer than that,then one can presume bacterial bronchitis and antibiotics are then often prescribed to hasten resolution.
Dr. Ivelisse Rivera-Godreau
Family Medicine 24 years experience
Few things...: Symptoms for a viral bronchitis tend to be milder( although not necessarily), it resolves on its own and lasts for a shorter period of time.In patients with other risk factors like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, asthma or COPD, smokers, and the like there is a greater risk of developing a bacterial type of infection due to a weak immune system. Pts with a bacteria tend to have more complications

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A 45-year-old member asked:

Bacterial or viral bronchitis, how can I tell?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Sue Ferranti
Internal Medicine 29 years experience
Severity....: Typically, a bacterial bronchitis will give you a higher fever, discolored sputum, malaise, etc. The symptoms with a viral infection tend to be less severe without a fever, clearer sputum, etc. However, there is overlap in symptoms so if you are not sure, you should see your doctor so the infection can be diagnosed and treated. Both can produce a significant and severe cough.
CT
A 29-year-old female asked:

How do you know if you have bacteria or viral bronchitis?

1 doctor answer2 doctors weighed in
Dr. Douglas Arenberg
Pulmonary Critical Care 31 years experience
You generally don't: 1st, more than 95% of "bronchitis" is viral. Secondly the other 5% probably resolve spontaneously without any therapy. It really does not matter unless you are otherwise chronically ill from congestive heart failure, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Bronchitis is just a term we throw around for people who have a new cough, and it is not really that well defined.

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Last updated Dec 7, 2015

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